Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Central Park at 54

Today is my 54th birthday and it's a pretty good one, considering that I went to the ER at two am last week with a bowel obstruction and was in the hospital for three days. Oh what fun! What brought that on? Good question. It seems it was one of those perfect storms: I have scar tissue from an operation (things can catch!), but more importantly, I had bronchitis some weeks before and two rounds of antibiotics which killed everything in my gut. Yes, I was eating yogurt before, during and after, but it seems that the kind I as buying didn't have enough probiotics. So there I was, thinking I was doing the right thing as well as helping things along with extra fiber. Trouble is, it all stopped working after lunch one day. 

I really didn't feel hungry, but had a small salad and a bowl of soup, and starting feeling really strange afterwards which sent me to my doctor in the late afternoon. At first I thought it might appendicitis, but I didn't have enough symptoms for that. My doctor asked me to call him if things got worse. Ok, I said. On the way home, I up-chucked lunch on a Central Park West curb which made me think I had food poisoning. Ok, thought. This is going to pass. Wrong!

Cut to ten PM and I was in pain, sitting in the bathroom with my head in the toilet, still thinking everything was going to be ok. (Earth to Daniel! When you throw up more than twenty times something is wrong!)

Mr. Husband put me in a cab at two am and off we went to the hospital only ten blocks away. They asked twenty questions and shot me up with morphine.

Then they gave me a liter of clear liquid to drink. Designed to light up one's innards for a CatScan, they shot me with more morphine while I waited for the elixir to work. Two hours later, they wheeled me into the room with the big metal doughnut and asked me to hold my breath while they took pictures. Now past dawn, I waited until late morning to be admitted. The morphine shot morphed into an IV drip.  

Once upstairs, a nurse held the back of my head and shoved a big tube up my nose and down my throat. You have to swallow this, she said, which I did, tears rolling down my cheeks. More tubes everywhere, measuring everything going in and out. The deal? Get everything out, take off the pressure, and hope that the obstruction clears itself. 

No food or water, the smell of lunch made me gag. I shared the room with another fellow, but he disappeared. Off to ICU, my nurse said. 

Blood samples, temperature and blood pressure every four hours. A phalanx of doctors arrived morning, noon and night. Have your passed any gas yet? Nope, I answered. But you'll be a first to know.

The first night, I didn't sleep a wink, and by the second, I'm was begging the tall handsome doctor who visits me in the middle of the night if he could give me something. He sent up a tiny Ambien pill which I swallowed without any water. In five minutes I was in pain, sitting on the edge of the bed, groaning like the witches in The Scottish Play. Nurse!

The doctor returned and sheepishly mentioned that I probably shouldn't have had that pill. Really? I looked at him and smiled. An IV drip magically arrived and took me into Somus' arms until morning. 

I awoke to gas which I proudly announced to everyone and anyone. The tubes came out. Now I could move around after lying still for two days. Wonderful!

Later than evening, Mr. Husband and I feasted on Fourth of July fireworks from the hospital's tenth floor, the brilliant display shooting out over the Hudson river. Happy to be alive, I waited until the next morning to see if I could tolerate solid matter.

Tea, jello and apple juice arrived for breakfast and stayed down without the slightest discomfort. Lunch was pasty, tasteless chicken, rice and vegetables and also stayed put. Did I want to stay for dinner, the doctors asked? Are you kidding? I replied. I think I can eat better at home! Smiles all around, the head doctor released me a few hours later.

I'm a lucky man. last thing: culture is good for you. 

Photos taken July 11th, 2012 in Central Park at the Bethesda Terrace and Strawberry Fields. 


  1. Happy birthday, Daniel, and best wishes for many happy returns.

    I'm sorry to read what happened but am very glad you're doing well. You really should wear a shirt when you go our for, as my grandmother would have said, you could catch cold on your kidneys. Oh, and sitting on cold stone gives you .... maybe better not go there.

    Gas is a wonderful thing!

    1. Thank you, Blue!

      I agree: effluvium is not to be taken for granted.


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